Last week I sang the praises of China and its development of the largest floating aquaculture platform. It is seriously wonderful news and even better, the fact that China was going one step further in developing a sail driven vessel. I was getting rather excited and then, brought back to reality with a bang.
In late July, Rhoda Kwan, in the Hong Kong Free Press, reported on hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels descending upon the Galápagos islands’ protection zone. The Ecuadorian navy reported some 260 Chinese fishing vessels in the ocean surrounding the islands. The fishing fleet was spotted via satellite imaging on the borders of the Galápagos Protection Zone, squeezed between the boundaries of the protection zone and Ecuador’s territorial waters, operating in an area which serves as a major migration route for sea creatures, including many endangered species.
The discovery has sparked fears for the protected region’s diverse ecosystem and marine life. The eastern Pacific Ocean islands and the surrounding seas are an UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for their unique wildlife and biodiversity.
Environmental organisations have voiced concern that overfishing is causing the ocean’s ecosystem to collapse which in turn harms protected marine wildlife. This is one battle in itself. But how can this be allowed? It is a flagrant abuse of rules and basically just very selfish.
There have also been reports of empty plastic water bottles of Chinese origin washing up on the shores of Galápagos National Park. This incursion is not the first. Chinese fishing fleets have been repeatedly found near the Galápagos islands in recent years. Last year, 245 fishing vessels were discovered to be operating in the same area according to the BBC. In 2017, thousands of illegally caught sharks were seized on Chinese vessels in the area. Shark fin of course is still considered a prized delicacy in most Chinese restaurants although some major brands in a variety of service areas are making moves against this.
So, what to do? Well the Ecuadorian navy are doing their best as are various NGOS. I suggest when you read of incidents like this, be more aware. Take to the social media ‘bandwagon’ and make a noise.
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